Aims: The vulnerability model postulates a triadic explanatory basis for the genesis of pathological gambling. Methods: To validate this model, N = 145 participants (n = 51 pathological gamblers, n = 45 control participants and n = 49 alcohol addicts) were asked to report on self-esteem problems, emotion dysregulation as well as relationship disorder. Results: Multivariate ANOVAs indicated that the three groups differed with respect to this triadic explanatory basis. Moreover, the results of two discriminant analyses show that 91.7% (pathological gamblers vs. control group) and 73.0% (pathological gamblers vs. alcohol addicts) of the participants could be classified correctly. The discriminant function of the first analysis (pathological gamblers vs. control group) is based on the whole triadic explanatory basis whereas the second function (pathological gamblers vs. alcohol addicts) includes only aspects of emotion dysregulation and relationship disorder. Conclusion: Thus, the vulnerability model provides a general as well as a specific explanatory basis for psychological factors of the genesis of pathological gambling.